No! The writer of the passage has not documented the source properly

You’re right. The writer has not documented this source properly.

  • The writer of the student writing sample has changed the words, but is still using all of the original author’s ideas
  • The writer has provided a bibliography, but is missing a citation

How can we fix it?

Walker introduces the following example to explain the behavior of water drops on hot surfaces. If you have ever made pancakes, you might have noticed that if the griddle is hot but not quite ready for the batter, a drop of water sprinkled on the griddle will thin out and disappear in about two seconds. When the surface becomes hot enough, however, the droplets will bounce, wriggle and skip above the griddle for anywhere from half a minute to over a minute and a half. How can this be? (Walker 1977:126)

The italicized additions to the student writing sample show how the writer could have avoided plagiarism. The modified sample identifies the start of the entire passage that came from Walker, and ends the passage by giving the citation (with the page where the information was found in the original source). Note, however, that the sample follows the original source so closely that direct quotation would have been much easier for the writer.

Alternatively, if we can make use of the authority of the author (Walker is a well-known author of Mechanical Engineering texts) and even use Walker’s means to simplify the explanation, but then link it (at both ends) into a more interesting discussion of the phenomenon at work:

To explain the idea of thin film boiling, Walker uses a pancake griddle. He notes that on a hot griddle, a water droplet will “spread out, wet the surface and evaporate within about two seconds.” However, if the griddle is hotter still, the droplet “dances” or bounces over the surface, taking much longer to evaporate. This change occurs because a thin film of steam forms beneath the droplet insulating it from making direct contact with the surface, thus making the droplet last much longer (Walker , 1977). The threshold where the droplet no longer makes direct contact with the surface is known as the Leidenfrost temperature. For water, that temperature is above 200ºC.

Note in this instance, “Leidenfrost” and “200ºC” do not require reference because these are standard facts from any textbook on the topic. Thus, the reference to Walker gets placed at the end of the reference-worthy information.

If you’re still looking for more on plagiarism, check out the University of Toronto Advice on Writing site, where you can find the useful document on How Not to Plagiarize.